Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blog Tour: Excerpt + Giveaway: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell


A Whole New World




Aladdin felt a blush wash over his face quickly before
The rubies . . .
He started to smile. That was more wealth than he had
ever seen up close. Enough to buy horses, fancy clothes,
servants . . .
. . . and then his smile faded. Until that moment Aladdin
never would have imagined that
limitless treasure
be enough for him.
“It doesn’t matter how much gold or jewels I get,” he
said morosely. “She has to marry a
. I have to come
from a noble family, a line of princes. Or be granted the title
and lands, which I can’t really see the sultan doing anytime
in the near future.”
The old man struggled for a moment, frowning and
wheezing as some undefi ned pain bothered him. Then he
took a deep breath and stuck his face into Aladdin’s.
“You’ve heard of the Golden Rule, haven’t you?
has the gold makes the rules!
” The man laughed—perhaps
insanely; perhaps he genuinely thought himself funny.
Aladdin noticed as the old man’s lips were spread wide with
mirth that his only healthy- looking tooth was gold.
“All right,” Aladdin said cautiously. It was true: money
bought almost anything. All the guards could be bribed to
look the other way with enough gold or gifts. All the guards


except for Rasoul, of course. He was like a big, stupid rock
of morality. Maybe sultans and kings could be bribed,
too . . . or haggled with. Maybe with enough gold, the title
could be bought.
“But why would you share all of this
wonderful treasure
with me?”
Catches—like perfect girls turning out to be
unattainable princesses—Aladdin was used to. Free 
treasure, he was not used to—and highly suspicious of.
“I need a young pair of legs and a strong back,” the old
man said, tapping Aladdin’s legs as solicitously as a camel
buyer. Aladdin squelched a shiver of fear. Was the man a
sorcerer who meant to literally
Aladdin’s back and legs?
No, that was foolish, Aladdin told himself, shaking his
“Because the treasure is in a
. In the
,” the old
man spat. “I’m . . . not quite as nimble as I used to be. I need
you to go get it for me and bring it out. Now, do we have a
“Oh, sure,” Aladdin laughed. If it wasn’t for the
existence of the rubies, he would have thought the old man was
completely mad. “Except for one thing. The cave is
out there
and we’re
in here.”
The old man cackled.


“Things aren’t always what they seem!”
He tapped a stone in the wall several times with his
cane. It slid aside, slowly, grindingly, but somehow under
its own power.
“So, I repeat,” the old man said as if enjoying the taste
of every word. He put his hand out. “Do we have a deal?”
Aladdin hesitated. Perhaps the old man really was a sor-
cerer after all. Or an ancient, angry djinn.
But then again,
treasure . . .
Aladdin squared his shoulders, set his jaw, and shook
the old man’s hand.
After he crawled through the narrow space, Aladdin found
himself in a pitch-black cave. Strange subterranean winds
blew frigid one moment and searingly hot the next. The
walls suddenly fl ickered with an evil red light, and a gust of
hot air burned the side of Aladdin’s face.
Abu screamed and clutched Aladdin’s neck.
“The very blood of the earth comes up through here,”
the old man explained, leading the way with his crabby
e. As they rounded a corner, they came upon the
source of the fl ickering red light: a slowly bubbling pool of
molten rock that burned hotter than the inside of a smithy’s
kiln. “We are deep beneath the palace now, in the living
stone upon which it was built.”


“I had no idea anything like this existed,” Aladdin said,
full of wonder. And also full of ideas. Caves that led under
the city and into the palace? That sounded like a
very bad
security hole. He wondered if they were anywhere near the
vaults that were fi lled with royal gold.
“Nobody does. Nobody
, that is,” the old man
Aladdin again felt the stirrings of fright. But then, what
would a ghoul want with treasure? This man was surely
alive. And secretive. And insane. Perhaps it was all an act to
protect his secrets. They went on.
The old man occasionally mumbled and muttered to
himself and made squawking noises like a bird. Having con-
versations with the long dead, probably. Aladdin noted with
interest how very few splits and turnoff s there were, and
how smooth the corridors were. Now and then he fl icked
out his knife to scratch an outcropping or put an arrow on
a wall when the old man wasn’t looking. Who knew when
such a route would be useful again?
“Listen, boy,” the old man said as they went. “When you
do go down into the Cave of Wonders, you must
not touch
except for an ugly old brass lamp you will fi nd
down there. There will be rooms of gold and chests of rubies
and ancient treasures worth a thousand kingdoms. Touch
nothing but the lamp, or you won’t come out of it alive.”


“Wait, I’m just supposed to walk by piles of gold?”
Aladdin scoff
ed. “You promised me riches, Grandfather.”

,” the old man muttered, for just a moment
sounding like someone younger. “The lamp gives one
power . . . over the Cave of Wonders and its treasures. If you
touch anything before it’s in hand, you will die. Bring the
lamp to me and I assure you, you will get what you deserve.”
“If you say so,” Aladdin said, shrugging.
When they fi nally arrived at the surface, it was night.
The passage ended in a rather inglorious drain hole near
where the workhorses and camels were stabled in the back
side of the palace, beyond the outer wall. It reeked of animal
piss, and Aladdin had to let the old man clamber onto his
shoulders to get out. On the bright side, no one was around
to see them.
Aladdin leapt out and took a deep breath of the fresh
air. Although the sky was clear, the stars twinkled madly
with desert sand and dust that was blown across them. He
frowned. Not a good night to go adventuring in the desert.
But fortune favored the brave, and he certainly wanted a
He looked at his companion with a critical eye. The old
man seemed like he was going to collapse in a pile of bones
right there.
Aladdin murmured softly to the animals in the stable.


He picked out an unfl ashy, sturdy little horse and lifted the
old man onto it.
“The stable boy whose charge is this horse will receive
fi fty lashes for losing him,” the old man said, cackling in
delight as he gripped the reins.
“We will be back before dawn if your stories are true,
Grand father,” Aladdin said, dislike for his partner growing.
“And I will tip the poor boy well.”
In the desert the winds swirled the sand into choking dust
devils, and Aladdin had to cover his face with his vest. His
feet kept slipping into the shifting dunes. The horse was
slightly more accustomed to the terrain but whinnied and
protested constantly.
It was not an easy trip.
The old man looked up at the stars. He muttered into the
hump on his back, as if confi rming his calculations. Even-
tually Sirius rose like the eye of a baleful ifrit over the chill
desert and they arrived at a solid cliff
of bedrock. Below it
was a wide bowl—a valley of sand, beautiful in the starlight,
but desolate and deadly. There were no plants here, no liz-
ards, not even stray stones.
Aladdin helped the old man down off
the horse. Mut-
tering and murmuring, the man drew something out of
his rags, cupping his hands as if it was alive. As if it was


something that might escape. Finally he spread his fi ngers
and revealed his prize.
A golden scarab rested in his palm. At fi rst Aladdin
thought it was a piece of jewelry or a statue, maybe with a
treasure map on its back.
Then it opened its golden outer wings to reveal a set of
fl ight wings—also made of gold.
It sparkled and glowed and fl ew into the air with a heavy
buzzing sound.
Aladdin jumped back.
The beautiful, frightening thing fl ew off
into the valley
with the directness of something not entirely insect-like. It
circled around a large mound as if deciding what to do and
then plunged deep into the sands.
Almost instantly the dunes slid forward in a disturbing
way. Something large, something very
was rip-
pling and rising to the surface. A giant stone head of a tiger
emerged, moving and growling and tossing like it was alive.
Aladdin prepared to run, but no more of the tiger
appeared: just the head. It did not seem able to move and
lacked the body of a sphinx.
Its eyes glowed like twin suns.
“Who disturbs my slumber?”
It was hard to say if the words were actually spoken aloud;
the ground rumbled, the sky thundered, the tiger roared. 


Aladdin backed away, almost tripping over his own feet.
This was
what he had signed up for. A dangerous
trip into a deep, dark cave, yes. A jaunt into the middle of
the desert at night, sure.
was too much. There had
been no mention of a giant talking stone tiger with the voice
of an ancient god.
The old man made an impatient
go ahead
with his hands.
Aladdin demanded. “Are you crazy?”
“You want the princess, boy?” his companion asked
with a sneer.
Ye s .
Yes, he did.
Aladdin took a deep breath and tried to steady his
“Uh . . . it is I! Aladdin!” he shouted, feeling more than
a little foolish.
The tiger was silent for a moment.
Aladdin got ready to run for his life.
The rumbles were softer, as if it was less angry.
“Touch nothing but the lamp.”
Its mouth snapped open, revealing a wide golden gul-
let. Down its tongue traveled a golden staircase. Aladdin
couldn’t see to the bottom. He took a tentative step forward.
“Remember, boy, just fetch me the lamp!” the old man 


shouted, unconsciously imitating the tiger. “Get me the
lamp and I shall make sure you get your reward!”
Aladdin thought of Jasmine.
He set his jaw.
“C’mon, Abu,” he said, and began to go down the steps.
The golden stairs ver y quick ly revealed themselves to be
disappointingly normal stone, only lit golden by whatever
was below. But the sheer number of them was breathtaking:
the path dipped and curved through the darkness as far as
the eye could see. Several times when Aladdin thought they
had reached the end, the stairs began again into a deeper
Into—Aladdin was more than a little relieved to see—an
absolutely enormous,
cave. Not a stomach.
At the far side of the cave was a somewhat anticlimactic
stone doorway that glowed so brightly from whatever was
in the room behind it that Aladdin had to cover his eyes as
he went in.
“Would you look at that,” he said, when he passed
through to the other side, a wide grin growing across his face.
Ridiculous, ludicrous, unimaginable piles of it.
Entire hillsides of coins, cups, urns, and statues. Giant
golden cauldrons stuff
ed to overfl owing with necklaces,
rings, bracelets, and other trinkets. Golden thrones. Golden
tables. Golden bric-a-brac shaped like fruit for no
 conceivable purpose other than to look at.


And among all this, rugs of indescribable beauty and
size and chests full of jewels shaped like berries and fl owers.
“Just a
of this would make me richer than the
sultan,” Aladdin sighed.
Abu chittered. Light sparkled on the closest chest,
bouncing off
a ruby the size of an apple.
The little monkey made a beeline for it.
“A b u ! ”
Aladdin ran desperately after the little monkey and did
something he never normally would have. He grabbed the
monkey’s tail and pulled him back.
Abu squawked at the indignity and tried to stop himself
by digging his hind claws into the rich purple-and-blue rug
they were standing on.
“Don’t. Touch.
” Aladdin chastised, shaking
his fi nger at his friend. “Remember what that big, scary cat
thing said? Whose stomach we are currently in? We gotta
fi nd that lamp. First.
we’ll get our reward.”
He plucked the monkey off
the ground and set him
securely on his shoulder.
“It’s got to be around here somewhere. . . .”
He wandered the path around the treasures carefully,
making certain never to come too close to any of them. He
kept one hand on Abu, just in case.
The monkey chittered irritably.
“I don’t know,” Aladdin answered, as if it was a real


question. “A little oil lamp, I guess. The old man obviously
thought we could carry it out easily. I see cups and pitchers
and plates and vases and other house-y stuff , but no lamps
yet. . . .”
The monkey chittered again. He sounded nervous this
time and kept glancing behind them.
“Sorry, I’m looking as fast as I can,” Aladdin said, con-
tinuing their imaginary conversation. “It’s not like I can
anything to move it aside. . . .”
Abu screamed and clawed Aladdin’s neck.
it?” Aladdin demanded, turning around to see
what was bothering his friend. There was nothing behind
them, just the path they were on. And also a carpet that
looked suspiciously like the one near the entrance, by the
chest Abu had almost touched. It even had the same golden
tassels, one on each corner.
“Huh,” Aladdin said. He turned and began walking
Abu was silent for a good ten seconds before beginning
to screech in fear.
Aladdin whipped around.
Again, nothing.
Except for the carpet.
Which was right behind them.


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